Monday, March 16, 2015

Yevgeniya Baras: Of Things Soothsaid and Spoken

Baras is a young artist with an old soul. Perhaps the immigrant experience informs her persona, arcing generations of Russian Jews relocating to the Promised Land of the New York art world.
Baras is not your typical, well-rounded visual artist. Her monkish devotion to esoterica, psyche, and nature coalesce as iconographic altarpieces, harkening to her Russian/Jewish origins. There is a focus on low-tech materials. Her imagery is devoid of cynical gestures or any overt quest for political relevance.   
She is not concerned with d├ęcor, or becoming fashionably elite. These are encouraging traits in an artist just beginning to catch on, and indicates a creative identity oblivious to the distractions of art as a day job.
Baras’ vernacular vocabulary effectively informs her content; folksy references to rustic emblems enable the casual offhandedness seen in her impastoed frames. The artist’s informal technique lends an outsider feel to the textured reliefs. Some surfaces are rooted in craft-like traditions of weaving and stitching, invoking references to peasant culture.
Yet there is a compellingly sublime undertow of mystical provenance. Baras uses color to imbue a sensation of nature and atmosphere, which manifest as landscape felt through a highly charged notion of ancestral memory. This essence of chroma as a succinct psychic property, informs the artist’s work with an indistinct sentiment, seemingly historical in origin.       
There is an inherent dichotomy of intimacy and detachment. The pieces are not personal biographical narratives. They project a chilly sensitivity, you don’t cozy up to her compositions, so much as decipher them. Baras’ symbolist iconology tends to dictate a certain message; belief that physicality of medium can trans-mutate into spiritual revelation. 
Her work becomes most accomplished when her scratchy engraving carves into darkly brooding backgrounds that anchor child-like semiotics. Yet these are not simplistic images. They may recall lost notions, but encompass dense moments of intuitive prowess. They could be dream-like visions of the material world transformed, channeled through the sludge of the here and now. The tracks Baras leaves with her cryptic placards lead us to the inevitable conclusion that this artist has found a path she can follow.